Petting Zoo, Chicago (performance, installation)

On November 1, 1997, Kathleen “Snatchleen” O’Shea and I created “Petting Zoo”, an interactive installation which featured a human petting zoo as part of Halloween Howl, a carnival fundraiser at Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago

Halloween Howl, Flyer, 1997
Halloween Howl, Flyer, 1997

The performers in “Petting Zoo” featured Penny, Kale, Meg Duguid, Brett Williams, Kate Noel Bartus, Trish Happel, Mike Anthony, and Motae. Halloween Howl also featured “psychic poetry”,  fortune telling, and performance-installations from Pickles Oksietowicz, Mark Bellow, Fausto Fernos, Kelly Costello, and Kokoe. There was also a ritual to the Hindu goddess, Kali. Halloween Howl was attended by 300 people and raised a total of $2600 for Randolph Street Gallery.

From the Chicago Reader

SATURDAY Who exactly are the Radical Faeries? Since the 1970s they’ve shared a desire to find an alternative to urban gay culture, but the leaderless group is “antiauthoritarian” at its root, according to member Helen Keller of Troy (“the face that launched a thousand quips”). A press release from the Chicago chapter admits that “it’s difficult to sum up the Radical Faeries in a sentence or two,” yet finds its members have a common concern with “issues of spirituality, sexuality, gender, nature, and the celebration of individual expression.” Tonight they’ll throw a carnival fund-raiser for the Randolph Street Gallery. The Halloween Howl will feature “psychic poetry,” fortune- telling, and performances by Pickles Oksietowicz, Mark Bello, Fausto Fernos, Marsian and Snatchleen, Kelly Costello, and others. It’s from 8 PM to 2 AM (at 11 there will be a ritual dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali) at Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. Admission is $4.99 for costumed revelers, “$6.66 for mere mortals.” Call 312-666-7737.

From the press Release:

Halloween Howl! Support The Arts or Go to Hell!

Saturday evening, November 1st, from 8PM to 2AM, the Chicago Radical Faeries will transform Randolph Street Gallery at 756 N. Milwaukee Avenue into a circus-like fund-raiser. For the faeries, Halloween commemorates the time of year when the spirit world is most accessible to our present reality. This connection will culminate in an 11PM (faerie time) ritual dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, who represents the simultaneity of destruction followed by new creation. This parallels Randolph Street Gallery’s emergence from an eight month programming hiatus.

The benefit features Smart Bar;s Noir DJ Brother Tom who specializes in dar, beautiful music, and performers include Pickels Oksietowicz, Mark Bello, Kulov, Sache, Fausto Ferños, Marsian and Snatchleen, Kelly Costello, I Li Hsiao, Kokoe, and a host of other people doing psychic poetry, fortune telling, makeup, and other interactive performances. Admission is $6.66 for mere mortals; $4.99 for those in costume. Cheap spirits, Zombie Chow, and a raffle will be available for donations during the event.

According to Kokoe, one of the event organizers, “the Radical Faeries have a tradition of community by sharing our individual visions. Building on the tremendous success of our March 23 Faeries to the Rescue event, we hope that we can expand the new grass roots community supporting Randolph Street Gallery by bringing together performers, art, supporters, and partygoers through interactive performance art.”

“Since many Radical Faeries are artists and performers,” adds Kelly Costello, a photographer and organizer of the event, “we feel that it is important to work towards sustainable community-run arts centers.”

Please join us in supporting the arts, or go to hell!

Randolph Street Gallery (RSG), founded in 1979, is Chicago’s largest and most distinguished artist-run center. Internationally recognized for its inventive and prolific programming, RSG is known as an innovative forum presenting alternative multi-disciplinary work that engages the public in art addressing contemporary issues. This fall, RSG is presenting Trace, a multi-disciplinary project exploring race and identity. Trace includes performances, video screenings, readings, workshops, and exhibitions that will be open for viewing during Halloween Howl.

It is difficult to sum up the Radical Faeries in a sentence or two. One of the most important things to remember is that no two faeries will agree on a single definition for the group. In keeping with this fin tradition, faeries on the Internet have an FQA (Frequently Questioned Answers) list instead of an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). In spite of this, the faerie movement has flourished in the United States since the 1970’s and “chapters” have recently sprung up in Europe. The faeries are a circle of loving friends seeking an alternative to urban gay culture. The faeries are concerned with issues of spirituality, sexuality, gender, nature, and the celebration of individual expression. To be a Radical Faerie is an act of self-definition.